It took her a moment to grasp her surroundings. The earth was hard beneath her feet. Rock formations hung in the air upside down. They appeared to be floating. Her breath came out in sharp jabs. She fell down again. A fog seemed to settle only around her. Open green pustules washed over the rocks. The pathways were narrow, no way to avoid the murky waters. Her knees crushed into the ground. The water washed over her face. It felt like snot, warm, thick, and sticking to her eyelids every time she tried to wipe it off. The pain in her lungs grew. Each step became forced. Each breath to weak. It was almost easier to sit down and stop. Why did she feel like she had to escape in the first place?
A white hot hand pressed against her face. It covered her mouth or she would have screamed. Her eyes opened wide: a white woman. Her hand outstretched to take hers in panic, “Quickly!” She said. “They are coming for you.” It was only then she noticed the spiders.
Giant, disgusting, horrible spiders. The crawled along everything, grabbing onto the rocks as if they human hands, and propelled themselves forward with the strength of giants.The white woman shone brighter the spiders. They backed off for nearly a moment, and struck harder again.
This is what it felt like to be prey. She was a hunter. Is a hunter. She corrected, reaching for the nearest rocks to climb up and clear a path. The woman fell behind as a distraction. She looked ancient even if Aria could not make out the lines on her face or the wrinkles in her hands. The way she struck back at the creatures with a swipe of her hand showed power. She did not trust this woman, but if the creatures were as evil as they felt, then she had to a force of goodness, and if she helped, Aria was on her side.
Aria threw a rock behind the woman. The white woman seemed to smile. The creature didn’t notice. Okay, maybe helping wasn’t the brightest idea. She continued to run forward, clambering up the rocks.
“Head for the rift!”
The what? The white woman pointed towards the sky. The storm cloud cracked down. Green and blue lightning shimmered in the distance high above their heads. She couldn’t be expected to reach that. The surrounding sky inverted around it into a solid blood-orange burnt by this so-called ‘rift.’ Where was she? She shook her head. She needed a way up there, a more direct path. These rocks floated endlessly, if only there was some way to connect them.
She continued to run, grabbing at rocks and climbing them upwards. The white woman followed shouting “Run,” as if Aria hadn’t heard her the first time. Her eyesight blurred. It looked as if the rocks began to congeal together. She needed a cliff, a staircase, anything; and they had listened. Aria crashed into the newly formed cliff face, scrambling towards the sky. Through the storm, she saw the glimpse of a stone village. The temple. She sighed in relief.
Aria turned back. As the spiders approached the crest, they looked more and more monstrous, turning into demons behind the woman in white. She was too far away. Aria wouldn’t make it, but she had to save her. The woman in white raised a hand.
“Go!” She commanded. “Warn them! You must warn the others!”
“Go!” She compelled Aria forward with her hand. Aria had to survive. She ran into the storm. She saw the lightning shoot into her body, changing her, but something was absorbing it. She looked at her hand. The stone crashed into her knees, the first real pain in what felt like forever. That place was horrid. The stone felt cold and smelled of mold and ash. She breathed in the air triumphantly.
She collapsed to the ground. Finally, she thought, home.
A soldier ran towards her. His boots were Ferelden iron.
“Andraste…It’s an elf!” The soldier shouted to his remaining unit behind him. The same green light pulsed from her hand as from the sky. Red hair stuck to her face, barely covering the markings of a Dalish. He cursed. It would be them, tearing open the sky with the fury of their old gods. He reached for his sword. A hand clasped on his shoulder.
“Commander,” he stood higher. “We have found the murderer.”
The Seeker woman stepped from behind him.
“Chain her in irons,” her lip trembled in hatred and agony. “I will question her myself.”